Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

worthy kind of servitude, is incapable of producing any thing good or noble. I have seen originals, both in painting and poesy, much more beautiful than their natural objects; but I never saw a copy better than the original: which indeed cannot be otherwise; for men resolving in no case to shoot beyond the mark, it is a thousand to one if they shoot not short of it. It does not at all trouble me, that the grainmarians, perhaps, will not suffer this libertine way of rendering foreign authors to be called translation; for

own Muse; for that is a liberty which this kind of poetry can hardly live without.

QUEEN of all harmonious things,

Dancing words, and speaking strings!
What god, what hero, wilt thou sing?
What happy man to equal glories bring?
Begin, begin thy noble choice, [voice.
And let the hills around reflect the image of thy
Pisa does to Jove belong;
fair first-fruits of war, th' Olympic games,
Jove and Pisa claim thy song.
Alcides offer'd-up to Jove;

But, oh! what man to join with these can worthy
Alcides too thy strings may move:
[prove!
Join Theron boldly to their sacred names;

Is

Theron the next honour claims:
Theron to no man gives place,
first in Pisa's and in Virtue's race!
Theron there, and he alone,

Ev'n his own swift forefathers has outgone,
They through rough ways, o'er many stops they
past,

Till on the fatal bank at last
They Agrigentum built, the beauteous eye
Of fair-fac'd Sicily;
Which does itself i' th' river by

With pride and joy espy.

I am not so much enamoured of the name translator, as not to wish rather to be something bet-The ter, though it want yet a name. I speak not so much all this, in defence of my manner of translating, or imitating, (or what other title they please) the two ensuing Odes of Pindar; for that would not deserve half these words; as by this occasion to rectify the opinion of divers men upon this matter. The Psalms of David (which I believe to have been in their original, to the Hebrews of his time, though not to our Hebrews of Buxtorfius's making, the most exalted pieces of poesy) are a great example of what I have said; all the translators of which, (even Mr. Sandys himself; for in despite of popular errour, I will be bold not to except him) for this very reason, that they have not sought to supply the lost excellencies of another language with new ones in their own, are so far from doing honour, or at least justice, to that divine poet, that methinks they revile him worse than Shimei. And Buchanan himself (though much the best of them all, and indeed a great person) comes in my opinion no less short of David, than his country does of Judea. Upon this ground I have, in these two Odes of Pindar, taken, left out, and added, what I please; nor make it so much my aim to let the reader know precisely what he spoke, as what was his way and manner of speaking; which has not been yet (that I know of) introduced into English, though it be the noblest and highest kind of writing in verse; and which might, perhaps, be put into the list of Pancirolus, among the lost inventions of antiquity. This essay is but to try how it will look in an English habit: for which experiment I have chosen one of his Olympic, and another of his Nemean Odes; which are as followeth.

THE SECOND OLYMPIC ODE OF
PINDAR.

Written in praise of Theron, prince of Agrigentum, (a famous city in Sicily, built by his ancestors) who, in the seventy-seventh Olympic, won the chariot-prize. He is commended from the nobility of his race, (whose story is often toucht on) from his great riches, (an ordinary common-place in Pindar) from his hospitality, munificence, and other virtues. The Ode (according to the constant custom of the poet) consists more in digressions, than in the main subject: and the reader must not be choqued to hear him speak so often of his

[ocr errors]

Then chearful notes their painted years did sing,
And Wealth was one, and Honour th' other,
wing;

Their genuine virtues did more sweet and clear,
In Fortune's graceful dress, appear.

To which, great son of Rhea! say
The firm word, which forbids things to decay!
If in Olympus' top, where thou
Sitt'st to behold thy sacred show;
If in Alpheus' silver flight;
If in my verse, thou dost delight,
My verse, O Rhea's son! which is
Lofty as that, and smooth as this,

For the past sufferings of this noble race
(Since things once past, and fled out of thise
hand,

Hearken no more to thy command)
Let present joys fill up their place,
And with Oblivion's silent stroke deface
Of foregone ills the very trace.

In no illustrious line
Do these happy changes shine
More brightly, Theron! than in thine.
So, in the crystal palaces

Of the blue-ey'd Nereides,
Ino her endless youth does please,
And thanks her fall into the seas.
Beauteous Semele does no less
Her cruel midwife, Thunder, bless;
Whilst, sporting with the gods on high,
She enjoys secure their company;
Plays with lightnings as they fly,
Nor trembles at the bright embraces of the Deity

But death did them from future dangers free;
What god, alas! will caution be

For living man's security,
Or will ensure our vessel in this faithless sea?

[blocks in formation]

Erynnis saw 't, and made in her own seed
The innocent parricide to bleed;

She slew his wrathful sons with mutual blows:
But better things did then succeed,
And brave Thersander, in amends for what was
past, arose.

Brave Thersander was by none,

In war, or warlike sports, out-done.
Thou, Theron, his great virtues dost revive;
He in my verse and thee again does live.

Loud Olympus, happy thee,

Isthmus and Nemæa, does twice happy see;
For the well-natur'd honour there,
Which with thy brother thou didst share,
Was to thee double grown

[blocks in formation]

There silver rivers through enamell'd meadows glide,

And golden trees enrich their side; Th'illustrious leaves no dropping autumn fear, And jewels for their fruit they bear, Which by the blest are gathered

For bracelets to the arm, and garlands to the

head.

Soft-footed winds with tuneful voices there Dance through the perfum'd air:

Here all the heroes, and their poets, live;
Wise Rhadamanthus did the sentence give,
Who for his justice was thought fit
With sovereign Saturn on the bench to sit.
Peleus here, and Cadmus, reign;
Here great Achilles, wrathful now no more,
Since his blest mother (who before
Had try'd it on his body in vain)
Dipt now his soul in Stygian lake,
Which did from thence a divine hardness take,
That does from passion and from vice invulnera.
ble make.

To Theron, Muse! bring back thy wandering song,

Whom those bright troops expect impatiently;
And may they do so long!

How, noble archer! do thy wanton arrows fly
At all the game that does but cross thine eye:
Shoot, and spare not, for I see

[blocks in formation]

Leave, wanton Muse! thy roving flight;
To thy loud string the well-fletcht arrow put;
Let Agrigentum be the butt,

And Theron be the white.

And, lest the name of verse should give Malicious men pretext to misbelieve,

By the Castalian waters swear,
(A sacred oath no poets dare
To take in vain,

No more than gods do that of Styx prophane)
Swear, in no city e'er before,

A better man, or greater-soul'd, was born;
Swear, that Theron sure has sworn
No man near him should be poor!
Swear, that none e'er had such a graceful art
Fortune's free gifts as freely to impart,
With an unenvious hand, and an unbounded
heart.

But in this thankless world the givers
Are envied ev'n by the receivers:

Tis now the cheap and frugal fashion,
Rather to hide, than pay, the obligation:
Nay, 'tis much worse than so;
It now an artifice does grow,

Wrongs and outrages to do,

Lest men should think we owe.

Appear'd not half so bright,
But cast a weaker light,

Such monsters, Theron! has thy virtue found: Through earth, and air, and seas, and up to th

But all the malice they profess,

Thy secure honour cannot wound;

For thy vast bounties are so numberless,
That them or to conceal, or else to tell,
Is equally impossible!

THE FIRST NEMEAN ODE OF
PINDAR.

Chromius, the son of Agesidamus, a young
gentleman of Sicily, is celebrated for having
won the prize of the chariot-race in the Ne-
mæan games, (a solemnity instituted first to
celebrate the funeral of Opheltes, as is at
large described by Statius; and afterwards
continued every third year, with an extraor-
dinary conflux of all Greece, and with incredi-
ble honour to the conquerors in all the exerci-
ses there practised) upon which occasion the
poet begins with the commendation of his
country, which I take to have been Ortygia,
(an island belonging to Sicily, and a part of
Syracuse, being joined to it by a bridge)
though the title of the Ode call him Ætnaan
Chromius, perhaps because he was made go-
vernor of that town by Hieron. From thence
he falls into the praise of Chromius's person,
which he draws from his great endowments of
mind and body, and most especially from his
hospitality, and the worthy use of his riches.
He likens his beginning to that of Hercules
and, according to his usual manner of being
transported with any good hint that meets him
in his way, passing into a digression of Her-
cules, and his slaying the two serpents in his
cradle, concludes the Ode with that history.
BEAUTEOUS Ortygia! the first breathing-place
Of great Alpheus' close and amorous race!
Fair Delos' sister, the childbed

Of bright Latona, where she bred

Th' original new Moon!

heavenly vault.

"To thee, O Proserpine! this isle I give,"

Said Jove, and, as he said,

Smil'd, and bent his gracious head.

"And thou, O isle!" said he, "for ever thrive, And keep the value of our gift alive!

As Heaven with stars, so let

The country thick with towns be set,
And, numberless as stars,

Let all the towns be then
Replenish'd thick with men,
Wise in peace, and bold in wars!
Of thousand glorious towns the nation,
Of thousand glorious men each town a
stellation!

[ocr errors]

Nor let their warlike laurel scorn
With the Olympic olive to be worn,
Whose gentler honours do so well the brows of
Peace adorn!"

Go

to great Syracuse, my Muse, and wait
At Chromius' hospitable gate;
"Twill open wide to let thee in,

Joy, plenty, and free welcome, dwells within.
When thy lyre's voice shall but begin;
The Tyrian beds thou shalt find ready drest,
The ivory table crowded with a feast:
The table which is free for every guest,

And feast more upon thee, than thou on it.
No doubt will thee admit,
Chromius and thou art met aright,
For, as by Nature thou dost write,

So he by Nature loves, and does by Nature fight,

Nature herself, whilst in the womb he was,
Sow'd strength and beauty through the forming

mass;

They mov'd the vital lump in every part,
And carv'd the members out with wondrous art.
She fill'd his mind with courage, and with wit,
And a vast bounty, apt and fit

For the great dower which Fortune made to it,
'Tis madness, sure, treasures to hoard,
And make them useless, as in nines, remain,

Who saw'st her tender forehead ere the horns To lose th' occasion Fortune does afford

were grown!

Who, like a gentle scion newly started out,

From Syracusa's side dost sprout!
Thee first my song does greet,
With numbers smooth and fleet
As thine own horses' airy feet,
When they young Chromius' chariot drew,
And o'er the Nemaan race triumphant flew,
Jove will approve my song and me;
Jove is concern'd in Nemea, and in thee.
With Jove my song; this happy man,

Young Chromius, too, with Jove began ;
From hence came his success,
Nor ought he therefore like it less,
Since the best fame is that of happiness;
For whom should we esteem above
The men whom gods do love?

Tis them alone the Muse too does approve,
Lo! how it makes this victory shine
O'er all the fruitful isle of Proserpine!

The torches which the mother brought
When the ravish'd maid she sought,

Fame and public love to gain:

Ev'n for self-concerning ends,
'Tis wiser much to hoard-up friends.
Though happy men the present goods possess,
Th' unhappy have their share in future hopes ne
less.

How early has young Chromius begun
The race of virtue, and how swiftly run,

And borne the noble prize away,

Whilst other youths yet at the barriers stay!
None but Alcides e'er set earlier forth than be:
The god, his father's blood, nought could

restrain,

'Twas ripe at first, and did disdain
The slow advance of dull humanity.

The big-limb'd babe in his huge cradle lay,
Too weighty to be rock'd by nurses' hands,
Wrapt in purple swaddling-bands;

When, lo! by jealous Juno's fierce commands,
Two dreadful serpents come,

Rolling and hissing loud, into the room;
To the bold babe they trace their bidden way;

[blocks in formation]

To save or perish with her child;

She trembled, and she cry'd; the mighty infant smil'd:

The mighty infant seem'd well pleas'd

At his gay gilded foes;

And, as their spotted necks up to the cradle rose,
With his young warlike hands on both he seiz'd :
In vain they rag'd, in vain they hiss'd,
In vain their armed tails they twist,
And angry circles cast about;
Black blood, and fiery breath, and poisonous
soul, he squeezes out!

With their drawn swords

In ran Amphitryo and the Theban lords;
With doubting wonder, and with troubled joy,
They saw the conquering boy

Laugh, and point downwards to his prey, Where, in death's pangs and their own gore, they folding lay.

When wise Tiresias this beginning knew,
He told with ease the things t' ensne;
From what monsters he should free
The earth, the air, and sea;
What mighty tyrants he should slay,
Greater monsters far than they;
How much at Phlægra's field the distrest gods

should owe

[blocks in formation]

In their harmonious, golden palaces;

Walk with ineffable delight

Pindar's unnavigable song

Like a swoln flood from some steep mountain pours along;

The ocean meets with such a voice, From his enlarged mouth, as drowns the ocean's noise.

So Pindar does new words and figures roll
Down his impetuous dithyrambic tide,

Which in no channel deigns t'abide,
Which neither banks nor dykes control:
Whether th' immortal gods he sings,
In a no less immortal strain,
Or the great acts of god-descended kings,
Who in his numbers still survive and reign;
Each rich-embroider'd line,

Which their triumphant brows around,
By his sacred hand is bound,
Does all their starry diadems outshine.
Whether at Pisa's race he please

Whether the swift, the skilful, or the strong,
To carve in polish'd verse the conqueror's images;
Be crowned in his nimble, artful, vigorous song;
Whether some brave young man's untimely fate,
In words worth dying for, he celebrate-

Such mournful, and such pleasing words, As joy to his mother's and his mistress' grief af. fords

He bids him live and grow in fame; Among the stars he sticks his name; The grave can but the dross of him devour, So small is Death's, so great the poet's power! Lo, how th' obsequious wind and swelling air The Theban swan does upwards bear Into the walks of clouds, where he does play, And with extended wings opens his liquid way! Whilst, alas! my timorous Muse Unambitious tracts pursues; Does with weak, unballast wings, About the mossy brooks and springs, About the trees' new-blossom'd heads, About the gardens' painted beds, About the fields and flowery meads, And all inferior beauteous things,

Like the laborious bee,

And there with bumble sweets contents her in. For little drops of honey flee, dustry.

THE RESURRECTION.

Nor winds to voyagers at sea,

Through the thick groves of never-withering light, Nor showers to earth, more necessary be,

And, as he walks, affright

The Lion and the Bear,

Bull, Centaur, Scorpion, all the radiant monsters

there.

THE PRAISE OF PINDAR.

IN IMITATION OF HORACE'S SECOND ODE, B. IV.

Pindarum quisquis studet æmulari, &c. PINDAR is imitable by none;

The phenix Pindar is a vast species alone.

(Heaven's vital seed cast on the womb of Earth
To give the fruitful Year a birth)
Than Verse to Virtue; which can do
The midwife's office and the nurse's too;
It feeds it strongly, and it clothes it gay,
And, when it dies, with comely pride
Embaims it, and erects a pyramid

That never will decay

Till Heaven itself shall melt away, And nought behind it stay.

Begin the song, and strike the living lyre;

Who c'er but Daedalus with waxen wings could fly, Lo! how the Years to come, a numerous and

And neither sink too low nor soar too high?

What could he who follow'd claim,

But of vain boldness the unhappy fame, And by his fall a sea to name?

VOL. VIL

well-fitted quire,

[blocks in formation]
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

Then all the wide-extended sky,
And all th' harmonious worlds on high,
And Virgil's sacred work shail die;

And he himself shall see in one fire shine

Figures, Conceits, Raptures, and Sentences,
In a well-worded dress;

And innocent Loves, and pleasant Truths, and useful Lies,

In all their gaudy liveries.

Mount, glorious queen! thy travelling throne, And bid it to put on;

For long, though cheerful, is the way, And life, alas! allows but one ill winter's day.

Rich Nature's ancient Troy, though built by Where never foot of man, or hoof of beast,

hands divine.

[blocks in formation]

ing stands,

Meet, salute, and join their hands;
As dispers'd soldiers, at the trumpet's call,
Haste to their colours all.
Unhappy most, like tortur'd meu,
Their joints new set, to be new-rack'd again,
To mountains they for shelter pray,

The mountains shake, and run about no less confus'd than they.

Stop, stop, my Muse! allay thy vigorous heat, Kindled at a hint so great;

Hold thy Pindaric Pegasus closely in,

Which does to rage begin,

And this steep hill would gallop up with violent

course;

'Tis an unruly and a hard-mouth'd horse, Fierce and unbroken yet,

Impatient of the spur or bit;

Now prances stately, and anou flies o'er the place;
Disdains the servile law of any settled pace,
Conscious and proud of his own natural force:
"Twill no unskilful touch endure,

But flings writer and reader too, that sits not

sure.

THE MUSE.

Go, the rich chariot instantly prepare ;
The queen, my Muse, will take the air:
Unruly Fancy with strong Judgment trace;
Put in nimble-footed Wit,
Smooth-pac'd Eloquence join with it;
Sound Memory with young Invention place;
Harness all the winged race:

Let the postillion Nature mount, and let
The coachinan Art be set;

And let the airy footmen, running all beside,
Make a long row of goodly pride,

The passage press'd;

Where never fish did fly,

And with short silver wings cut the low liquid sky;
Where bird with painted oars did ne'er

Row through the trackless ocean of the air;
Where never yet did pry

The busy Morning's curious eye;

The wheels of thy bold coach pass quick and free, And all's an open road to thee;

Whatever God did say,

Is all thy plain and smooth uninterrupted way! Nay, ev'n beyond his works thy voyages are

known,

[blocks in formation]

But fly

With an unwearied wing the other way on high,
Where Fates among the stars do grow;
There into the close nests of Time dost peep,
And there, with piercing eye,

Through the firm shell and the thick white, dost spy

Years to come a-forming lie,

Close in their sacred fecundine asleep,

Till hatch'd by the Sun's vital heat,
Which o'er them yet does brooding set,
They life and motion get,

And, ripe at last, with vigorous might

Break through the shell, and take their everlast ing flight!

And sure we may

The same too of the present say,

If past and future times do thee obey.

Thou stop'st this current, and dost make
This running river settle like a lake;

Thy certain hand holds fast this slippery snake:
The fruit which does so quickly waste,
Men scarce can see it, much less taste,
Thou comfitest in sweets to make it last,
This shining piece of ice,
Which melts so soon away
With the Sun's ray,

Thy verse does solidate and crystallize,
Till it a lasting mirror be!

Nay, thy immortal rhyme
Makes this one short point of time
To fill up half the orb of round eternity.

« ПредишнаНапред »